Redesigning Your Website – Platforming

January 27, 2014 Ryan Horner

Updating your website is a process - one that can feel overwhelming, even if you’ve been through it before. To help you navigate the journey, we’ve partnered with a few marketing experts to bring you a candid collection of advice and best practices, which we’ll be delivering through our Redesigning Your Website series.

Last week, we shared a few tips to help your project wrap up on time, and on budget. This week, we move into the Platforming phase.


There’s no one-size-fits-all simple formula to determine what content management system (CMS) and general technology platform will work best for your firm.

“You need to use the right tool for the job,” says One North Managing Director, Technology, Ryan Horner.

Deciding factors can include:

Products with a strong user base often feature better support than products with a small number of users. A strong user community also provides an additional resource for advice, and you’re more likely to find new employees who may have experience using the product, Horner says.

Many content management systems have an out-of-box workflow. “You change one item on a page, and it just goes live,” Horner says. It’s important to define your internal workflow, identify how many users will be making updates and determine how often the site will be changed.

If you publish content for users who speak a variety of languages, look for a system with the ability to save content in multiple languages. Also, consider whether or not your firm would need an administrative tool that’s available in more than one language to accommodate non-English-speaking firm members who’ll make updates.

Does the CMS support the level of complexity your chosen content and design may require? For example, is there support for multimedia elements like videos? Does the system offer the SEO capabilities you want? Will you be able to host multiple domains if you have several websites?

“Hosting can be a huge factor in deciding and cost,” Horner says.

External hosting service providers can often offer 24-7 support at a reasonable rate because the cost is averaged among all their clients.

If a firm chooses to host its own site, the additional expense and time can be significant. Firms need to fund their own constant support and purchase every element required to host a website—including hardware, which can be expensive. Expect, on average, up to 50 percent higher overhead for deployments, migrations and maintenance.

Having one company develop and host your site can generally just be easier.

“When a vendor owns the entire stack of services, they can provide better service, and the cost goes down for changes,” Horner says. “When you have a hosting company and a different company building the system, you can get a lot of ineffectiveness in communication.”

A dedicated partner can also provide strong back-up and disaster recovery support—and help law firms keep current on recent technology trends and updates.

“There are a sea of things happening in the front-end development world,” Horner says. “Law firm technology and content management software has become so specialized. To compete with all the other sites out there, firms have to know about front-end development, design and strategy.”

Once you decide which platform is right for you, it’s time to start thinking about design! Tune in next week to learn a few things you should keep in mind as the creative process unfolds. And if you can’t wait until then, you can find all of the phases in our
Definitive & Candid Guide to Successful Websites.


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Ryan Horner Managing Director, Technology

As Managing Director of Technology, Ryan is responsible for overseeing One North’s strategy related to technical applications, systems and client implementations. He got his start at age seven, programming an Apple IIe.

  • Last thing you geeked-out about: This happens on a daily basis, oftentimes to the internet of things coming to life and novel uses of the technology-enabled sharing economy – or some combination of the two.
  • Most unusual job: I grew up on a working farm, so I've had lots of unusual jobs: baling straw, sweeping bins, cleaning a cattle barn, etc. 

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